'˜I had two years to plan for 10 year wait on my pension'
When Marilyn Moorhouse gave up work on medical grounds, she believed she had just a few years until being eligible for her state pension.
But new rules meant actually she had a full decade to wait.
The 62-year-old, of St Ives Avenue, South Shore, is among hundreds of thousands of women nationwide who have been caught unawares by changes made by the government to the pension age.
The 1995 Conservative Government’s Pension Act included plans to increase women’s SPA (State Pension Age) to 65, the same as men’s, while the 2011 Pension Act speeded up the process.
But what has angered people like Marilyn is the government failed to notify those affected until just two years before the change impacted on them, leaving it too late for many of them to plan for a comfortable retirement.
Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) is a national movement calling for fairer transition to the new timescale.
They are not calling for the pension age to revert back to 60, but say compensation should be paid to those who say their retirement plans have been shattered.
They also say the implementation of the new pension age has been too quick to enable women to make alternative financial arrangments.
Women born in the 1950s are particularly affected.
WASPI says 2.6 million women born in that decade have paid a total of £255bn in National Insurance Contributions during their working lives but are having to now wait between one and six additional years for their state pension.
Pauline Duncan, 62, of Douglas Avenue, Layton, is helping lead the campaign here on the Fylde coast where many have signed petitions due to be handed to the Pensions Minister.
Figures show more than 4,000 women in Blackpool North and Cleveleys constituency, and more than 3,600 women in the Blackpool South constituency are affected by the change.
Pauline said: “We are against the unfair way the Acts have been implemented, and the lack of fair notice given to the 2.6 million women and their families.
“The 1995 Pensions Act increased the State Pension Age to 65 for any woman born after April 6 1951.
“Unfortunately no-one contacted these women directly to inform them.
“There were a few articles in the time in the news, but these were tiny, and women living busy lives caring for their families were far too busy and exhausted long before the late night news.
“They should have sent these women including me a letter.”
WASPI is claiming maladministration because women were not individually notified of the change with proper notice.
Pauline, who worked as a nursery manager as well as bringing up her two children, added: “My letter arrived in February 2012, two years before I expected to receive my state pension, and certainly not enough time to plan for the six additional years I will have to wait.”
Pauline will not receive her state pension until July 2020, a loss of around £37,000 to her household income.
Some women are bridging the gap by trying to get jobs, or claim benefits, or else must live off company pensions.
Another anomaly is the way the changes are being phased in.
Marilyn is just six months older than Pauline but will get her state pension a year earlier, in July 2019.
She worked as an administrator in the prison service and paid into her pension for 40 years.
She said: “I am living off my small works pension and have no other income at all.
“It is ridiculous that I have paid into the system for 40 years and suddenly they change the goal posts.
“I got a letter in March 2012 telling me my state pension date had changed. That was only two years before my 60th birthday.
“By then I had given up my job because I wasn’t in the best of health and I was expecting I would get my state pension at 60.
“There are many women we speak to who don’t know their pension age had changed, It went totally under the radar.”
The change also means women do not qualify for other benefits such as free bus travel and winter fuel allowances.
Pauline added: “WASPI has received many true stories from all over the UK.
“Single and widowed women with no other source of income forced to sell their homes.
“Women who took part-time jobs had no opportunity for private pensions. They are having to look for work again, but at 62 who wants to employ you?”
Local MPs including Gordon Marsden, Paul Maynard and Cat Smith are supporting the WASPI campaign.
Last month, Blackpool Council also agreed to back the WASPI campaign following a presentation by Pauline to a meeting of the full council.
Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said: “It is completely unfair to withhold state pensions from women who have paid into the system, many of them for their entire working lives.
“It was compelling to hear the strains and hardships this policy creates.”
An All-Party Parliamentary Group has been set up to consider the issue and is due to meet with Pensions Minister Damian Green at the end of October.
The House of Lords is also due to debate the issue on November 2.
Anyone who wants to find out more about the campaign should email Pauline at [email protected]